New Zealand Law Society - Calling applicants for research awards

Calling applicants for research awards

This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

Legal researchers are reminded to get their applications in soon for this year’s round of New Zealand Law Foundation scholarships. Closing dates are drawing near for applications for most of the Foundation’s awards.

The Foundation is New Zealand’s major funder of legal scholarships. The awards provide several different support options for post-graduate legal study, and attract lawyers and legal academics at different levels of experience.

Some scholarships, such as New Zealand’s premier legal award, the International Research Fellowship, help experienced legal experts carry out major original research projects.

International Research Fellowship Te Karahipi Rangahau ā Taiao

This is the most prestigious of the Foundation’s awards. The International Research Fellowship is worth up to $125,000 a year and assists research in New Zealand or overseas that aims to make a significant contribution to our law. Anyone with the required abilities can apply, including legal practitioners, academics, judges or government officials.

The most recent winner, Dunedin barrister Alison Douglass, is reviewing New Zealand law concerning mental capacity, with research here and in England. Otago University senior lecturer Ceri Warnock, the 2013 winner, is completing an analysis of the Environment Court, researching in New Zealand, Australia and England.

Past winners have produced significant studies. One was former Health and Disability Commissioner and current Ombudsman, Ron Paterson, whose book The Good Doctor – What Patients Want was published in 2012.

An earlier winner, Dr Mark Hickford, now Dean at Victoria University Law Faculty, published a critically-acclaimed work on relationships between the Crown and Māori, Lords of the Lands.

Wellington barrister and former Deputy Solicitor-General, Dr Matthew Palmer, produced a well-publicised book on the role of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand’s law and constitution.

Applications for the International Research Fellowship close on 1 September.

Other awards

Other scholarships help newly-qualified lawyers, woman lawyers and law graduates carry out higher level masters or doctoral study.

Our newest award, the Shadow Report award, helps non-government organisations consider and report on New Zealand’s compliance with its international treaty obligations.

Following is a list of other specific awards and closing dates. I encourage anyone with the right experience to apply. Detailed information on the awards and how to apply can be found on our website,

Cleary Memorial Prize

The Cleary Prize celebrates young lawyers who show the most promise of service to and through the profession. The $5,000 prize is open to recently-admitted barristers and/or solicitors.

The 2014 winner, Seamus Woods, is a high academic achiever with an impressive background of service to his law school, fellow students and the wider community. He was president of both the NZ Law Students’ Association and the Canterbury Law Students’ Association.

The former judge’s clerk to the President of the Court of Appeal was the top Canterbury University law graduate in 2012. At university Seamus established and ran a tutorial programme for compulsory law subjects when the law school lost facilities following the Christchurch earthquakes. He also helped co-ordinate and took part in a Salvation Army programme feeding homeless people and sex workers, and he was a regular volunteer case worker at the Community Law Centre.

First awarded in 1964, the Cleary Prize honours Sir Timothy Cleary, former Law Society President and Court of Appeal Judge. It has had many distinguished former winners, including Justices Baragwanath, Tipping, and Wild.

Nominations for the Cleary Memorial Prize close on 30 September.

Shadow Report Award

In 2011 the Foundation launched a new grant to help human rights advocates research and report on New Zealand’s compliance with its international treaty obligations.

The New Zealand Law Foundation Shadow Report Award is worth up to $10,000 each year to help non-government organisations prepare these reports.

United Nations organisations periodically review treaty compliance, and shadow reports provide supplementary or alternative information to help United Nations organisations fully understand the situation of individual countries.

The most recent winner, injury victim support group Acclaim Otago, carried out a systemic review of ACC against the convention rights, analysing data from 600 submitters. It concluded that ACC was not achieving its statutory purpose or complying with the Convention on the Rights of People with Disability.

Applications are open to individuals or any body or organisation active in human rights in New Zealand. Applications close on 1 August.

Ethel Benjamin Scholarship

This scholarship for women was established in 1997 to mark the centenary of the admission of Ethel Benjamin as the first woman barrister and solicitor in New Zealand.

It is awarded for research that protects and promotes the public interest in New Zealand legal matters, and is valued at $50,000 for overseas university study or $20,000 for study at a New Zealand university.

Applications for the Ethel Benjamin Scholarship close on 1 March each year. Interviews were completed in mid-May and 2015 scholarships have been awarded to Stephanie Thompson, a graduate of Auckland University, who will study for her LLM at Cambridge University, and Rebecca Thomson, a graduate of Otago University, who will study for her LLM at Columbia University. Full details appear in a separate article in this magazine (see page 22).

Distinguished Visiting Fellowship

This award enables university law schools in turn to host an eminent international legal scholar for up to two months each year. Each fellow delivers public lectures at the host university and all other law schools. Selection is by invitation from the law school hosting the Distinguished Visiting Fellow, in conjunction with the Law Foundation.

The 2014 award went to Columbia University Law School copyright law expert Professor Jane Ginsburg. Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, first President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, was our Fellow in 2013.

Unfortunately, the 2015 Fellow, Graeme Virgo, Professor of English Private Law at Downing College, Oxford has had to defer his fellowship until 2016. His visit will be hosted by the Otago Law Faculty and we will be delighted to welcome Professor Virgo to New Zealand in mid 2016.

Check the Law Foundation’s website for full details and feel free to contact me at if you would like a preliminary chat about whether you might be eligible for any of our awards.

Lynda Hagen is the Executive Director of the New Zealand Law Foundation.

Lawyer Listing for Bots